Wednesday July 17, 2019. It’s 6:00 AM. I’m driving over to Veterans Park in Manchester. I’m listening to AM-610 Radio, The Jack Heath Show. After he reads the news headlines, he speaks of the spike in drug-related deaths in the city, mostly from heroin.
I pull up to the park and see the usual, clutter everywhere, dirty clothes and seven emaciated, zombie-like people sitting up against a retaining wall. They are all meth users. They are covered with acne, a common side-effect of habitual meth use. They are dirty. Their hair is filthy and long. They look mean and angry and, they are not friendly. They are in a living hell. I offer them food and water and hygiene kits. As I walk away, one starts screaming like a wounded animal. I pray to Jesus to give me the strength to do this. I pray for my safety.
There is a woman at the far end of the park. She is sitting on a blanket. Through her bruised right eye, tears flow as she talks to me. Huddled around her are a bunch of teenage girls. She tells me that she watches over them at night. She wants me to hug her. I take a step back. She starts crying harder. She says that they get taken advantage of. “I try to watch over these children but, it’s not easy. Every night people bother us. They steal from us and get after the girls. Imagine homeless people stealing and mistreating other homeless people.” She thanked me. I tell her that Jesus is watching over her and to keep up the great work.
I would have prayed with her but, I look over my shoulder and see three young men approaching me. It is time for me to put my attention on them. They ask me for what I have. I give each a bottle of water, fruit bars and crackers. These young men are not on meth. They are heroin users and their arms are loaded with sores from needle injections. One’s arm looks infected badly. They seem oblivious to their sores. I give each a pair of socks, band-aids, and hygiene items.
In a little over a half hour, Shepherd’s Way has provided 22 people with food, water and basic hygiene items. I pray for the Lord to give my group the resources and energy to keep this mission going because we need all of the help we can get. Someone has to do this. We’ve chosen this mission. We are his stewards and, we will do it.